Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mythic Fathers of Aiki

When I first moved to Japan, quite by luck I met professor Adatchi who had trained in Daito Ryu, and even trained with Morihei Ueshiba in the 1960s.  On my second day in my little village he stopped by my house and brought me up to an ancient pre-Shinto water fall shrine in mountains.  We stared at the ant lions and spider webs and told me stories about where the ideas of Aiki came from according to the lore of Daito Ryu.

Tadao Adatchi at Fudoshin Taki

In the aikido tradition I came from it is often taught that AIKI was a concept that solely originated from Ueshiba.  I strongly feel this is an incorrect teaching.  Morihei Ueshiba studied formally in the tradition of Daito Ryu for several decades.  In this tradition they explain the history of aiki as follows.

What follows is the mythic origins of aiki...

Prince Teijin

About 875-880 A.D., one of the sons of Emperor Siewa met a Chinese man who taught him a few fighting techniques. From these techniques and principles, Teijun Fujiwara (sometimes called Sadazumi or Sadagami) developed a fighting art. Teijun Fujiwara taught these techniques exclusively to the royal Minamoto family where it remained a secret style until the early 1100s.

Minamoto clan crest

Minamoto no Yoshimitsu

The origins of Daitō-ryū maintain a direct lineage extending approximately 900 years, originating with Shinra Saburō Minamoto no Yoshimitsu (新羅 三郎 源 義光, 1045–1127), who was a Minamoto clan samurai and member of the Seiwa Genji (the branch of the Minamoto family descending from 56th imperial ruler of Japan, Emperor Seiwa).

Minamoto no Yoshimitsu

As a child, Minamoto Yoshimitsu lived in a place called Daito in Omi province (modern Shiga prefecture), and therefore was also called Daito Saburo. This is where the name Daito-ryu comes from.

Omi Province/Shiga Prefecture - Birth Place of Aiki

The two sons of Emperor Minamoto no Yoriyoshi - Minamoto no Yoshimitsu (also known as Shinra Saburo or Genji ) (1036 - 1127 A.D.) and Minamoto no Yoshiie (Hachimantaro) (1041 - 1108 A.D.) were both Yamusame (archery) and To-Ho (swordsmanship) masters, brought up in the tradition of their forefathers. They both worked together to develop their families fighting techniques by dissecting cadavers and studying the working of the muscles and bones.
Yoshimitsu studied classical Chinese military strategies like those of Sun Tzu and Wu Tzu, made his name as a military commander who had mastered sumo and aiki, and excelled in both literary and military arts. He also held a supervisory position in the Left Security Department of the Japanese imperial court. The "aiki" mastered by Yoshimitsu had been a secret art transmitted in the Minamoto family, which he continued to perfect and develop.

He also learned his understanding of jujutsu from nature. He noticed that a spider making its web could catch its prey that was bigger than the spider itself. This gave him the idea that the small could defeat the large. After that he studied this principle hard for many years. At last, he found the secret that makes all techniques work. This was Aiki.

Black Widow I painted when I was injured and could not train

Many scholars have long looked to China as a possible source of some of the idea's of Aiki.  This is especially clear in certain schools of Daito Ryu that have a strong internal strength element to it.  I personally see a strong philosophical connection to the martial arts that come from Mt Wu Dang.  However these connections are to be debated for the remainder of human's span here on Earth online in aiki forums.

This blog was shamelessly cut and pasted and rearranged from these online sources

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